A Time To Reap – Episode 54

A Time To Reap

Elizabeth stared out of the car window. Peggy, in the front seat, chatted with one of the estate gardeners who was acting as a driver tonight. Elizabeth hoped that she wouldn’t have to join the conversation.

This was so wrong in so many ways. First, although Libby had waved goodbye with a smile, she didn’t seem at all herself.

Second, Elizabeth hadn’t been to a big social occasion since Matthew died.

Third, why had Lady Annabel issued what was almost a royal command that she attend?

Fourth, how was she going to behave towards Andy?

Since that conversation with her mother-in-law almost three weeks ago she’d tried to avoid him as much as possible, getting Tam to accompany him if he was at the farm on veterinary business.

She made sure they were never alone when he came to the house to do chores for Tibbie.

Maybe that had been the wrong thing to do. She could hardly avoid him for ever. Did she want to?

She realised she missed his company, his practical good sense, their reminiscences about their shared history.

She thought of his enjoyment of the family life at her house, his easy way with Tibbie and the girls. They’d all be pleased if . . .

“Elizabeth! We’re here.” Peggy had turned round to look at her. “Are you all right?”

“Yes, of course,” Elizabeth said, trying to smile.

“Listen,” Peggy said, cocking her head. “There’s a piper at the door. And it’s the front door for us tonight, not the tradesmen’s entrance!”

Divested of their warm wraps, they made their way into the ballroom. Peggy squeaked with pleasure at the grandeur of it all.

Alec made his way towards them, his face animated.

“Peg, d’you remember that accordionist chap we met in the summer? He’s here, with his wife. Come and say hello.”

“But . . . ” Peggy looked at Alec’s hand on her arm and then at Elizabeth.

“Go,” Elizabeth said, laughing. “Go! I’ll be fine.”

She turned to find her employer beside her, in dark green with a tartan sash.

“What a wonderful dress.” Lady Annabel came closer so that she could speak quietly. “Elizabeth, I may have done something unforgivable but I assure you it was with the best of intentions.”

What on earth could she mean?

Lady Annabel looked towards the ballroom door. Coming through it was Bill Brock.

“He asked if he could come back for the ball.” Lady Annabel spoke rapidly. “And he said he hoped very much that you would be here.”

“No!” Elizabeth said. “You had no right . . .”

She looked down to the other end of the room. To leave it the way she had come in would mean passing him. There must be more than one exit!

She couldn’t see another door but there was Andy Kerr appearing, like a lifeboat on a stormy sea. She plunged towards him and saw his face light up.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.